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Online Tools: Video Calls

Learning at Home and Online

During this unprecedented time, students will be required to foster their skills for learning online. Students will also be required to connect online with their teachers and, possibly, other students. Please see below for some guidelines on how to set up for video call success.

Setting up for Video Chat Success


Training Videos for Microsoft Teams

Tips for Getting Students Ready for Video Calls from Common Sense Media

Get set up

If students' classes are meeting online, make sure they're familiar with how the whole process works. Reviewing all the technical details helps kids feel more confident with new procedures and equipment.

Determine what you need: If possible, identify which video-conferencing software students will be using (MS Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are a few popular ones).

Review features: Every video-conferencing platform works differently. You'll want to make sure students know basic functionality, such as how to: answer a video call; make a video call; join a meeting through a link or login; pause the video; mute the sound; use the text chat (if the platform offers it); share their screen (so they can work on something together); record the class; and use any other special features.

Create a calendar: Highlight the importance of creating an online calendar and employ the use of alerts to remind students of classes, meetings and conference calls.

Adjust sound and video: Make sure the camera is on and working. Do a mic check so you know it works. You can test the camera and mic on your system, but it's ideal if you make adjustments in the video-conferencing software you'll be using so you can save your settings.

Assemble necessary equipment: Students may need earphones, a microphone, and paper and pencils to take notes.

Plug in and close all other tabs: Video-conferencing uses a lot of machine power. It's a good idea to keep devices plugged in and, if possible, use an ethernet cord to connect directly to the internet. To prevent video from stuttering, turn off out of any other tabs so the device can put all its muscle into the video.

Do a practice run: Role-playing is a great way to prepare students for what's expected in the video-class environment. If you have two devices, you can set yourself up on the platform they'll be using, or just use FaceTime and video-chat as if you're leading the class.

Set expectations for how students should conduct themselves on camera: Face the screen; mute yourself when you're not speaking; unmute yourself when you're ready to talk; turn off the camera if you need to blow your nose; etc.

Rules of the road: notes for parents!

Get on the same page with your kid about appropriate behavior for video-chatting.

Choose a neutral background: Broadcasting from the bedroom is a little intimate for a class setting. If they must, help them carve out a space where they can have peace and quiet but that doesn't convey too many personal details.

Don't bring your device into the bathroom: A video of a student bringing her laptop into the bathroom during class recently went viral. Make sure that's not your kid! Just as with regular school, go to the bathroom before class. If there's an emergency, make sure kids know how to temporarily disable the video and mute themselves and then turn everything back on again. Practice that—it'll come up more than you think.

Be respectful of others: You want your kid to be courteous to the teacher and to others. Impress upon them the fact that this is an unusual time for everyone, and appropriate behavior is a huge help to overwhelmed teachers.

Be respectful of the tools: Kids will be introduced to a lot of new, fun tools in their video-chatting software, and the temptation to misuse them has resulted in a new term: "Zoombombing."  Teachers can prevent this by being careful with their settings.

Reduce distractions: Don't introduce pets, play with toys, or wear costumes while on-screen—unless your teacher encourages it.

Older kids: Let them have some privacy. They need to be able to participate without worrying about you overhearing them, so let them set up in a location that gives them some latitude. You can always check in later.

Stay safe: Live video chat can be recorded and screens captured by participants. No matter what the setting, it's important that kids are mindful that their image and audio can be appropriated by others so they conduct themselves appropriately at all times.

Adapted from Common Sense Media